Very often we use an ingredient and don't pay much attention to where it comes from, what are its health benefits, how to store them and what are the recipes that we can make out of them. This section covers ingredients that we often use and give information about its health benefits and more. Go ahead, take your time and do a very informative reading and become aware of what you eat. 

Squash are the harvest of winter and comes in various shapes and sizes. The squash are roasted, baked, cubed, pan fried, grated or pureed and used in various recipes. Soups and curries made with squash goes into main course. Lot of squash also is used to make pies, gnocchi & risotto. Salads, soups, burritos and quesadillas can be completed with squashes. It gives a silky and creamy texture to most dishes it is combined into.

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Rich in flavour, Vitamin A, potassium and fiber, sweet potato packs a powerful nutritional punch.

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How often do you make this vegetable at home? We all know that bitter gourd is freely available especially in indian market, and we can buy this round the year. Most of the families have a small percentage of people liking and eating this vegetable with love. Attributed to its innate bitterness, bitter gourd is had sparsely than the other vegetables that are included in our daily diet. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating karela.

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Clove is an aromatic spice that is the flower bud of Clove tree which are native to Indonesia. The clove flower buds have a pale yellowish tinge and the clove buds are ready to harvest when it turns pinkish to bright red. The cloves are harvested along with stalks, dried in sun or under mechanical/electronic drier.

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Tofu is a block of bean curd prepared by coagulating the soy milk. With great protein in it (about 42%) tofu is considered as a meat replacement for vegetarians and a main source of protein for vegan diet. Tofu with a faint nutty taste is a major ingredient in Asian cuisines like Thai and Chinese. While its nutritional benefits are majorly talked about, the inconclusive research about its anti-nutritional properties is much debated.

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Rice is the staple food of the world, succeeded by wheat, and corn. Rice is a high glycaemic index which means it is high in absorbable sugars. With few of the easiest form of carbohydrates in nature, these are light on stomach and are great idea of staple food for gluten-free diet. Since rice contains simpler carbohydrates, it is a quick energy provider, when compared with most other staple foods of the world. Easily digested despite of less fibre, unless it is wild rice or brown rice, owing to simple carbs again. Here are various types of rice you ought to know about, and their relevance in daily food.

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Oil is one of the trivial ingredients in any kitchen, without which cooking becomes virtually bland. Though the cooking oil is usually not meant to add flavour or colour to the recipe that is cooked, sometimes while preparing the vinaigrettes or salad dressings, oils and the infused oils are expected to impart their flavour and colour to the recipe. While most of us know which oil to be used for particular recipes out of practice, let us shed some more light on the type of oils and their usage.

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Black rice is the deep dark short grain variety of rice that is originated from China and Asia. Black rice is sweetish to taste and has a nutty feel about its texture. Black rice was available only for the members of the royal family for a long period. As people realized the potential benefits of eating black rice, is when the black rice was grown commercially and common people also were given access.

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Mushrooms are the fungal fruiting bodies which contain spores for reproduction that grow below or above the ground. Out of the known 10000+ varieties of mushroom, few handfuls of popular types of mushrooms are edible. Mushroom is a protein-rich vegetarian substitute for high protein non-vegetarian foods. There are several benefits attached to consuming mushrooms.

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Cheese is basically the coagulation of milk protein called casein through adding molds or enzymes, or enhancing the natural acidification of milk. There are more than 1500 variety of cheese found in the world with varied techniques of cheese-making. They vary in their taste from sweet, sour, salty, to pungent and stinky. Method of making cheese is an art that differs with the type of cheese desired. History tells that Cheesemaking originated in Europe, Central Asia or Middle east, but today, cheese is considered as a drooling inclusion in many recipes across cuisines. Cheese can broadly be classified into Quick cheese, Fresh cheese, ripened cheese.

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There are incredible ways of including chillies in everyday food but the trends of the recipes containing chilli vary with the weather of a region. Summers and spring make the pickling recipes trending since the sun-assisted fermenting can be carried out easily. Deep fried veg and non-veg recipes, spicy gravy recipes with chilli are in trend during rainy and winter months.

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Cumin is a native plant from east Mediterranean to India. It is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae which is commonly known as parsley, carrot or celery family. It is used both in grounded and the whole form in different traditional Indian cuisines. It also has many uses as a traditional medicinal plant. Cumin or jeera is a dried seed that is oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged and yellow-brown in colour. (source wiki)

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Lettuce is one of the popular green leafy vegetables. Lettuce is widely known as salad green as well. It's crispy, green/crimson-red leaves are one of the incredible sources of essential nutrients that benefit health. Indeed, it is among the most sought-after green's, be it in your crunchy green salads or healthy sandwiches. Lettuce leaves are commonly available in four different varieties -  butterhead, crisphead, loose leaf and romaine. Each variety has a distinguished appearance and slight different flavor from each other. In general, the flavor of lettuce leaf is sweet, crisp and succulent. The lettuce leaves grow packed in firm bunches tucked with a small stem at the bottom of the bunch. Lettuce leaves have no aroma, but they can brighten up any salad recipe with their flavor and texture. 

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Description: Ajwain is the member of the dill, caraway and cumin family. The carom seeds are a popular spice throughout the Indian sub-continent and is the native of the Southern part of India. The plant is grown in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Egypt as well. The carom seeds have a strong crude aroma to it, very similar to the thyme. While tasting it creates a hot sensation in the palate along with a light bitter taste. The seeds are small, ridged ovals, greyish green to redish-brown, and resembles cumin seeds. 

Natives names: Ajwani (Hindi), Carom Seeds (English), Omam (Tamil), Biyane (Marathi)

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Ragi is one of the most common millets grown and extensively used in South India. The state of Karnataka is the largest producer of ragi in India. The origin of the millet is believed to be in Africa, where it is widely consumed. Ragi belongs to the family of small size millets. Ragi is a crop which can withstand severe drought conditions and can be easily grown throughout the year. It is a remarkable source of protein, making it a great source of nutrients for the vegetarian diets. The whole grain of ragi may be ground into flour or decorticated before grinding to produce either a fine particle product or flour, which is then used in various traditional foods. 

Natives names:  Hindi (Ragi), Tamil (Kelvaragu), English (Finger Millet), Marathi (Nachni)

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Amaranthus also popularly known as Amaranth is a tropical plant whose seeds and greens have been grown and used in India, Central and Latin America.  The Amaranth Leaves, come in both green and red forms or a combination of both colors. Amaranth comes in all sizes, shapes and colours. The leaves can be round or lance shaped, five to fifteen cm long or more, light green, dark green, reddish or variegated. Seeds maybe white, yellow, pink or black.The seeds and the leaves of the plant are known to be highly nutritious and makes a perfect vegetables or as a salad green. 

Native Names: Mulai Keerai (Tamil), Chaulai (Hindi)

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Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable that has smooth leaves that is generally cooked but is also eaten raw in the form of salads. Spinach is first believed to have been found in the diets of ancient Persians, but it was also naturally found to be grown in many parts of Asia. It was originally believed to be a winter plant, but now spinach is available throughout the year. Although the winter varieties of Spinach are known to have darker and larger leaves. It is also generally recommended that one avoids spinach during the monsoon seasons in India, as the leafs tend to carry a lot of ground water. Spinach is said to have a bitter sweet flavor and hence many times, the large varieties of spinach are most of eaten in the cooked form.

Natives names:  Hindi (Palak), Tamil (Keerai)

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Fenugreek is the native to western Asia and southeastern Europe, it has a long history of culinary and medicinal use. Fresh leaves of fenugreek have strong aroma and taste mildly pungent. While the dried seeds has much strong aroma and flavor to them. The robust herb has light green leaves, the fenugreek seeds are hard in texture and yellowish in color tone. India is one of the major producers and exporters of fenugreek.

Natives names: Hindi (Methi), Kannada (Menthya), Tamil (Vendayam or Venthiyam)

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Mango is the pulpy and sweet tropical fruit native to India and Southeast Asia. The mango fruit is called as King Of Fruits because of its nutritional benefits and versatile uses. Did you know every part of the mango tree is utilized in some way or the other? Mangoes are generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh vary across different geographical locations, some have a soft, pulpy texture while others are firmer and some may have a fibrous texture. The season of Mango in Indian subcontinent is usually from early April till August and there are a number of varieties. Most popular types of mangoes in India are Alphonsos, Badami, Chausa, Banganapalli, Kesar, Sinduri, Totatpuri, Safeda, Kalmi, Neelam, Langda and Dasheri and many many more which are completely region specific.

Apart from the ripe variety of Mangoes, we also have the Raw Mangoes that are used in making many dishes from pickles, to curries, chutneys, juices and sauces. The Raw Mangoes also have a different varieties and each variety differs from region to region.

Natives names: Hindi (Aam), Tamil (Mampala), Kannada (Mavina), Marathi (Aamba)

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The Cinnamon is the native spice of Sri Lanka and later in the 18th-century cinnamon plantation began in Java, India and the Seychelles. Cinnamon is the bark of an evergreen tree of the laurel family. Like its cousin cassia, cinnamon consists of layers of dried pieces of the inner bark of branches and young shoots from the evergreen tree. The spice has a warm, sweet, woody, intense aroma to it.

Natives names:  Hindi (Dalchini), Kannada (Lavangpattai), Tamil (Sanna-lavangapattai)

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Orange trees are the most cultivated fruit trees in the world. Oranges are a popular fruit because of their natural sweetness, the wide variety of types and diversity of uses - from juices and marmalades to face masks and candied orange slices. Due to their availability in the market all round the year, oranges are the most common citrus fruits consumed in India.

Natives names:  Hindi (Narangi), Tamil (Naaram), Kannada (Kittale)

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The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing small, deciduous tree or more like a shrub, the fruit is large, beige and red skinned protected. The tree is the native from Iran to the Himalayas, it has been cultivated all around the world since ancient times. The pomegranate pearls are fleshy, sweet, acidic with a refreshing sharpness. 

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